The fresh-faced frontman talks Edinburgh, inspiration, and balancing ambition with student life.
The Glasgow Guardian spoke to Joshua Grant about his number one Scottish chart single (Edinburgh), adjusting to managing studying here at Glasgow with the demands of gigs, and the exciting next steps for him and his band.
The Glasgow Guardian: Your debut single was called Edinburgh, how did the city inspire the song?
Joshua Grant: Edinburgh was where I grew up and went to school. After moving to New York to work with The New York Times I really found myself missing the city. Originally it just started as me busking in Central Park in my spare time and eventually grew into me putting those emotions into my first single. The reception was pretty brilliant, and I have Edinburgh as a town and my friends there to really thank for that.
“Originally it just started as me busking in Central Park in my spare time and eventually grew into me putting those emotions into my first single.”
GG: When you came back to Scotland you formed your band, how would you describe yourselves?
JG: Playing with a band is definitely a different vibe to solo acoustic, it’s a lot more about just being with your mates and having a laugh. As a band we definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re just trying to work together and do this on the side as a bit of fun, but also make something that we feel is really worth listening to. My band is called Joshua Grant which I know sounds conceited but that’s more just because I have a previous discography rather than because it’s solely about me. We’re all really involved with songwriting (Tom, Becky and Joey) and the development of our music as a whole, and I think that the dynamic really shows through when we’re playing.
GG: Talking about writing songs, is there a band you feel that’s really contributed to your music style?
JG: The Snuts, for sure. They’re just insane and their trajectory as a band from playing tiny venues like Sneaky Petes and bowling clubs to playing TRNSMT is so crazy to me! People believed in their music and that really made the difference, which is something that resonates with me massively. A few years ago I was given the opportunity to support them with the Wraccuses – my first band – which was such a surreal experience coming from a background of being a fan of theirs, and I’m still massively into their stuff.
GG: You guys have sold out the majority of your gigs and played quite a few venues across the country, has there been a stand out favourite?
JG: Ironically, probably the Glasgow University Union (GUU). The reception we got playing Freshers’ was one of the best and everyone was so nice; we really just had the best team in terms of making sure everything ran smoothly. Lewis who booked us in was wonderful, the sound engineer was sick, plus people were bringing us free crates of VKs after the show which was pretty cool. It was also the first time the band had really got to play together properly in front of a live audience, and once we did that gig it was like a catalyst with the tour coming off the back of that success.
“The reception we got playing Freshers’ [at the GUU] was one of the best and everyone was so nice…”
GG: Is there an album that’s really special to you?
JG: American Idiot by Green Day, I’ve seen the musical now as well. It’s one of those albums that tells a story when you listen to it and gives you a real idea of the purpose behind the songs. Which is something I really look to strive for in my own music, especially coming from an acoustic background. There’s not the instrumental side to keep listeners’ interest so you’ve got to make it enjoyable for them through the story. Now we’re a full band there’s a massive addition of energy and the four pieces of the story can really come together in that way making the punk-pop style Green Day used on American Idiot something we’re trying to incorporate in our newer stuff. Jesus of Suburbia on that album is probably one of my favourites, it’s pretty much nine minutes long and no one really makes songs that long anymore, but I think it’s just amazing! It’s kind of like five songs in one.
GG: Was there a gig that really got you into music?
JG: Again I’d have to say The Snuts. I remember I was watching them at SWG3 and they came out and announced that they’d just been signed by Parlephone Records (representatives of artists such as The Beatles, Lily Allen, Gorillaz, and Coldplay) and they’d all quit their day jobs to do music full-time. That was pretty impactful for me because it showed where music can take you, like that was the defining moment of them making music their career rather than a weekend hobby and I saw that it could be a realistic route.
“I remember I was watching [The Snuts] at SWG3 and they came out and announced that they’d just been signed by Parlephone Records and they’d all quit their day jobs to do music full-time. That was pretty impactful…”
GG: With lockdown eased up what are you most looking forward to getting back into?
JG: Gigs! When you’re stuck inside it’s hard to reach out to your audience cause there’s nothing new going on to give to or appeal to them. With things opened up it’s made it so much easier to play and work on releasing new music, it’s meant we’ve been so busy working really hard to make sure we make up for lost time, so there’s a lot coming up for the band in the next few months.
GG: With playing so many gigs have you found it hard to strike a balance with university work?
JG: Yeah, we’ve tried to plan out the gigs so they all fall on weekends rather than missing mid-week lectures but it can still be a challenge getting work done especially with travelling up on the Fridays etc. It gets pretty exhausting doing both, but I really love my course and staff here at the Uni so I’m trying to find a decent balance. It just amounts to a lot of work!
GG: Are there any local bands or artists right now that are a standout favourite?
JG: The Zeebecks for sure, they supported us up here in Glasgow and their music was so insane! They just really know what they’re doing and have such a brilliant image and music style. Honestly it felt like we should’ve supported them at the gig! They’re from Elgin up near Aberdeen way, all such lovely guys and definitely worth a listen.
GG: Finally, any upcoming plans?
JG: These next few months are pretty packed. By the time this article is out we’ll be up in London playing there and once that’s done with the gig, we’re staying through there for a few more days to work with some song-writers that did a lot of work with One Direction and Coldplay which is incredibly exciting. Next year we’re hoping to have a lot of stuff coming out, we’ve got a few new releases in the works as well as some shoots and PR stuff so keep an eye out for that! We are also playing King Tut’s New Year’s Revolution at the end of January.
Tickets to Josh’s King Tut’s show can be grabbed here.